Clear and cold at dawn. Nothing but the sound of water gurgling in the spring until, at length, the first distant bird call: song sparrow.
A dusting of snow. Three song sparrows are trying to out-sing each other, and the tall black locust at the woods’ edge creaks with ice.
A fresh dusting of snow. I close my eyes to listen the birds: song sparrow, bluebird, chickadee, a white-throated sparrow’s wavering song.
The rushing stream in one ear, a song sparrow in the other. Smoke from someone’s burn pile. High up, a V of migrant geese heading north.
Cold, overcast and still. Two song sparrows with markedly different regional accents sing back and forth across the road.
Now that the walnuts have all fallen, a squirrel deigns to pick one off the ground. The dogwood beside the stream pullulates with sparrows.
Another cold and overcast morning. A meadow vole zips into its burrow beside the stream and a song sparrow flies up with an indignant chirp.
A groundhog crosses the road and enters a burrow just cleared of snow. A song sparrow sings close enough that I can see his throat throb.
In the silence after the bulldozer stops, a song sparrow sings his lying spring song over and over. A gauze of stratus cloud dims the sun.
Parallel relics of the plow, the only snow yet to go glows in the dim light. A song sparrow by the spring house sings his spring song.
Despite the cold, a song sparrow warbles in the bushes. Inside, a shrill chirp from the smoke alarm—a dying battery’s swan song.
Sunny but still cold at 9:00. A fly walks slowly up a porch column. Water gurgles in the ditch. Three kinds of sparrows trade songs.
Windy and cold, with a new skim of snow on the ground. Song sparrow and bluebird bubble over with what sounds today like forced cheer.
Early morning sounds like spring, with cardinals, titmice and song sparrows tuning up. A rabbit stands on its hind legs to reach lilac buds.
From behind the springhouse, the opening notes of a song sparrow’s song, and a moment later, the closing notes of a white-throated sparrow.
Home after a week away, what’s changed? The song sparrows are back, ebullient as ever, and the dead cherry has shed another shaggy limb.